Tasty Pork Fried Rice

Pork fried rice is another staple of Chinese-American restaurants, though it is rarely found in Chinese-American homes. As a combination of bits of marinated pork, stir-fried in a mixture of rice, eggs and spring onions, the dish has great appeal.

However, the restaurant version developed differently from the traditional Chinese version, in response to Western preferences. This meant that plenty of soy sauce was ladled over everything, including the rice – not something a Chinese person would ever do. (We used to joke about this in the kitchen of my uncles restaurant.) Even today, many Westerners generally prefer food on the salty side, and traditional soy sauce is quite salty. The Chinese use soy sauce sparingly to allow the natural tastes of foods to come through. And never would it be poured on top of rice or used in fried rice, especially when one wants the clean, mild taste of rice made subtly smoky as it is when stir-fried in the wok. In the Chinese recipe, therefore, soy sauce is avoided.

Another variation had to do with the proportion of pork to rice. For a number of reasons (including relative scarcity), Chinese cookery uses meat more as an additive, flavouring, or contrast than as a centrepiece. In bountiful America, however, people are accustomed to plenty of meat. After many complaints from American patrons, therefore, the amount of pork in proportion to the rice was tripled. I should note that the amount of rice was also increased, to satisfy the American appetite and customary expectations.

Here is my modern version of the Westernized Chinese staple, without all the soy sauce and with more balanced portions of meat and rice.

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Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) cold cooked long-grain rice
  • 225 g (8 oz) boned pork shoulder
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 225 g (8 oz) shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 225 g (8 oz) bean sprouts
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Keep the rice in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook the fried rice.

Cut the pork into strips 2.5 cm (1 in) long and 3 mm ( in) thick. Mix the pork with the soy sauce, rice wine, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, ½ teaspoon of salt, the bicarbonate of soda and cornflour. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside.

Heat a wok or deep frying pan until it is very hot. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of groundnut oil and, when it is hot, toss in the pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and, when it is hot, pour in the egg and quickly stir-fry for 1 minute. Dump in the cold rice and stir-fry for 5 minutes over a high heat. Finally, add the spring onions, lettuce, bean sprouts and the partially cooked pork. Continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the mixture onto a platter and serve at once.

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